Guilt & Shame

“If the death has occurred suddenly, as in a car accident, the child will think, ‘If I had kept my mom on the phone a little longer that day’, or ‘If I hadn’t gotten in that argument, she wouldn’t have gotten in the car at that moment.’” (Counselor)

Guilt and shame are common reactions among grieving children—and grieving adults as well. These feelings can make it difficult to cope with a death. School professionals who understand why these reactions occur can take steps to create a safe environment for students to express their thoughts and feelings. These are important first steps to help children adjust to their loss. This module explains how to raise these issues with children and normalize their questions, thoughts, and feelings about the death.

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For more information on supporting grieving children, refer to The Grieving Student: A Guide for Schools by David Schonfeld and Marcia Quackenbush.